Continuing on with this season’s minor league rankings, this month’s top ten will actually be numbers 21 through 30 following the initial report and last month‘s. As always, players who have already been covered are ineligible as are players who have made their Major League debuts (there is an exception at number two this month as the top ten was decided just before he made his MLB debut).
The minor league teams as a whole are playing pretty well at this point, with the Rubberducks leading the way in the Eastern League Western Division by 2.5 games. Both the Mudcats and Captains are in second place in their divisions as well with only the Captains coming up in last. Standings aside, there are plenty of great players at each level and picking just ten is always difficult. There are a lot a new players on the list this month so if it says UR it means they have never been in the Burning River Baseball prospect rankings. If they were ranked, but not in 2013, the year will be included.
10. Jerrud Sabourin – First Base
Advanced A Carolina – 2011 Undrafted Free Agent – 2013 Rank #23
Sabourin struggled in Akron after his 54 RBI in Carolina in 2013 earned him a promotion, but has since caught fire back in the familiar settings of the Carolina League. In 17 games back with the Mudcats, he is slugging .455 with five doubles, six RBI and eight runs scored. Hopefully, Sabourin can use this as a confidence boost and get back to AA. Sitting behind Jesus Aguilar on the depth chart can’t be very comfortable, so he will have to really step up his game or become completely forgotten.
9. Tyler Holt – Left Field
AA Akron – Drafted 2010 Round 10 – UR
Holt is in his third year in Akron and is finally showing his true potential, batting .299/.417/.320 through 31 games. He is a high energy player who hit nine triples last season and has a team high nine steals already this season. While he isn’t the greatest defensive center fielder, he has been solid in left, where he has made just two errors in more than 100 total chances. He has a solid arm as well with 37 outfield assists in his five year MiLB career, including five already this year.
8. Josh Martin – Relief Pitcher
Advanced A Carolina – Drafted 2012 Round 10 – #50 in 2012
Martin has been one of the top relievers in the entire Indians system this year, excluding a couple in Akron who have already been featured (Sturdevant and Crockett). Through 19 innings, Martin has struck out 22 and allowed just three earned runs. Of course, this is his third year at the A+ level, but things are finally starting to work out for the righty. At 24, he is more of a long shot than the other listed relievers as far as making a splash in the Major Leagues, but his success deserves notice.
7. Jeremy Lucas – Catcher/First Base
Advanced A Carolina – Drafted 2012 Round 12 – #52 in 2012
After a few seasons where it seemed the Indians had no high level catchers, Lucas is one of three featured in the past two months. He has been the top run producer for the Mudcats, batting .267/.362/.450 and knocking in a team high 25 runs. He also is second on the team in walks (19) and is third in runs (20) with 13 extra base hits including three triples. In addition to catching, Lucas has played seven games at first as well and committed just one error combined between the two. He seems to be a solid back-stop and his versatility will help him get more at bats as he advanced through the system.
6. Duke von Schamann – Pitcher
AA Akron – From LAD in Colt Hynes Trade – UR
The Indians didn’t have room in their bullpen for Colt Hynes this year and rather let him go for nothing, were able to trade him for a AA starter with a fantastic name. He started as a long reliever, but has recently moved into a starting role. While he has struggled in his last two starts, he was dominant as a long reliever, averaging four innings per relief appearance and giving up just three runs total. Despite giving up ten runs in his first three starts, he still holds an impressive 3.69 ERA and a team leading 1.17 WHIP. This trade was essentially a something for nothing deal, so anything von Schamann can produce will be a bonus.
5. Robbie Aviles – Pitcher
A Lake County – Drafted 2010 Round 7 – UR
Aviles is in his fourth season in the Tribe development system and has posted career best marks through May. He has a career low 1.23 ERA after five relief appearances and three starts for a total of 36.2 innings. The only season that he has pitched more than 40 innings in his career was 2013, and he has increased his strike out rate and decreased his walk rate compared to that season (30/26 K/BB in 2013, 25/5 in 2014). He started the season in the bullpen, averaging more than four innings per appearance, then was put into the rotation for Caleb Hamrick, who struggled in his first three starts. Aviles has already spent a year in Lake County, so he certainly seems about ready for the next level. After a few more starts to prove he’s not a fluke, expect him to finish the season in Carolina.
4. Anthony Gallas – Left Field
Advanced A Carolina – 2010 Undrafted Free Agent – UR
Now that the upper tier prospects (like Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin) have moved on to higher levels, there is room for the next group to shine and Gallas has taken the opportunity by the horns. In his first 36 games he has knocked in 20 and hit six home runs. He leads the Mudcats in average (.348), slugging percent (.594), home runs, runs (23) and has double the doubles of any other player with 16. At two years older than the average ‘Advanced A’ player Gallas is a little behind in his development, but he still deserves credit for destroying the Carolina League.
3. Tony Wolters – Catcher/Second Base
AA Akron – Drafted 2010 Round 3 – UR
Wolters has been a top prospect for years for the Tribe, but has been kept down by slightly higher prospects like Ronny Rodriguez and Jason Kipnis at second base. To streamline his path to the Majors, he was moved to catcher, where the Indians are noticeably thinner. After a year in ‘Advanced A’, the Arizona Fall League and early Spring Training, Wolters finally has his stroke back and is hitting .307 in Akron. It took some time, but that is why transitions like this are much better off occurring in the minors instead of once the players goes pro, like with Carlos Santana. In addition to his catching duties, Wolters is keeping up with his infield, an ability that will be of great value if he ever does make it big.
2. Kyle Crockett – Relief Pitcher
AA Akron – Drafted 2013 Round 4 – #63
It is hard to tell at this point whether Crockett is the next Cody Allen or just another minor league flash in the pan, but at this point, things are very promising. In just his first full year, Crockett is already in AA and has given up a single run and 11 base runners in 15.2 innings. He also has an impressive K/9 of 9.8 and most of his appearances have been important as he has racked up six saves and finished eleven games. Of the players listed in this top ten, he is the most likely to make his Major League debut this year, similar to the upshot of Allen. Crockett proved his worth on this list as he made his MLB debut earlier this week.
1. Joseph Colon – Starting Pitcher
AA Akron – Drafted 2009 Round 12 – UR
Colon has been with the Indians for a long time after being drafted out of high school in 2009. Now, he is 24 and is rocking Akron as the number two starter for the Rubber Ducks. In his first eight starts, he has allowed just 14 runs and struck out 29 while averaging 5.2 innings per game. It took Colon four years to get past the A level, but he excelled in Advanced A last season before being promoted to the upper levels this year. If he can continue his success at this level, he could get a AAA call-up by the end of the year and possibly be ready for the Majors by 2016.